Panken Discusses Rising Tide of Religious Discrimination and Harassment Lawsuits

New York Post

Peter M. Panken, a Member of the Firm in the Labor and Employment practice group in the New York office, was quoted in a March 3, 2008, article in the New York Post, on the recent rise in religious discrimination and harassment lawsuits stemming from employees bringing religion into the workplace. The article, "Battle Lines - As Religious Expression At Work Rises, So Do Lawsuits," noted that while employers are not obligated to allow workers to form work-based faith groups, they can not approve of some while refusing others.

A potential point of conflict emerges when the believer is a superior, and a worker feels pressure, subtle or not, to get with the program, noted Panken. "If you feel you have to go to the supervisor's religion to advance, that can become religious discrimination," he said. Panken added that the issue is similar to sexual harassment regarding creating boundaries.

"Supervisors have to be trained carefully," said Panken, who advises companies on faith-related issues. "Religion is a cause of anxiety for a lot of people."